Puppy Love: How a Four-Legged Friend Can Keep You Moving
Anyone who loves dogs has experienced it. The uncontrollable excitement, borderline hyper-ventilation, spinning in circles, tails wagging at the pace of light speed all because you simply walked through the door. Most of us would agree on the pure joy that moment sparks in us – it’s better than any romantic scene in any movie and the best part of all, it literally happens any time you enter the room! It’s no wonder that the concept of therapy dogs is on the rapid rise with more and more pets receiving a therapy designation and countless organizations introducing puppies into the workplace to help alleviate stress and anxiety.
Pets can be beneficial
But is this really necessary and how much good does it really do? A recent NBC News story contests that dogs are good for our health. Many studies have been conducted on the benefit of service animals with a mixed bag of results. What I can tell you from my own experience is that incorporating time with a four-legged friend can absolutely help in ways we often don’t realize.
My best friend and my dog, Ringo
My best friend, who lives with psoriatic arthritis, has a bond with my dog Ringo that is incredible. He’s not a designated therapy or support dog, but he fulfills all the roles of one. Ringo is our constant companion on our many adventures from kayaking to long walks. He’s a Shih Tzu who’d rather give kisses and snuggle on the couch than do a whole lot of trekking on short legs, but he’ll always rally for my friend and she’ll always rally for him. In fact, the mere mention of her name will send him into a frenzy of excitement that is hilarious.
We have often been out on our local rails to trails network on days when her hips decide they just don’t want to cooperate, and he decides he’s over being active and doesn’t want to walk anymore. This usually involves him laying down in the middle of the trail and refusing to budge (it’s amazing how strong and willful a 17 lb dog can be). His obstinance usually leads to her going into full-on cheerleader mode trying to perk him up to go just a little further and that they will struggle through it together. Quite often it works, and he’ll trot along the rest of the way. Many times, he won’t agree to her terms and one of us ends up carrying him like a dead weight trying to justify it as resistance training. Every time though, it inspires her to keep going and not let her body’s aches and pains get the best of her.
They share a special bond
My friend can be riddled with pain, stress, and her natural ability to juggle way too many things yet she will drop everything to make sure we take Ringo to get his photos with Santa, the Easter Bunny, and any other random character that might show up at our local pet store. She can be having a terrible day, but the second he prances into her view she will crack up laughing and switch her focus to all the wackiness that is Ringo and how spoiled he is, rather than what’s bringing her down. The weather can be atrocious and require multiple layers to go out in it and she will always be ready to brave it if Ringo wants to go for a walk. Ringo reciprocates this love by often sporting a jaunty outfit at a run or walk to raise awareness for PsA, and he is beyond proud to do it. Call me crazy, there are even times when he will put some extra pep in his step, no matter how sore or tired he is, to help his favorite ‘aunt’ along on a long walk too. That kind of loyalty and unconditional support is something we humans need to try to do a better job of all around.
As I said, he’s not a designated support dog, but he doesn’t need the official title (although I believe strongly in the designation and training programs that offer them). Whether you are someone who has a dog of your own or has a best friend who does, just the simple act of spending time together and soaking up their love can work wonders. I understand not everyone is a dog lover and that pesky allergies can get in the way for some people, but there are many other options of companions that can provide a supportive love that can help immensely. It’s all about finding the solution that works for you.